Whether 'Burma' Or 'Myanmar,' The Root Is The Same



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Melissa Block and Guy Raz note that not all news outlets have accepted the name Myanmar for the country also known as Burma. They describe the issue of accepting a name chosen by a brutal regime — and how, in the end, it doesn't matter because the root word is the same.

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One final note on Myanmar and why, to this day, there is confusion over whether it's Myanmar at all or Burma. The country became the Republic of Burma when it won its independence from Great Britain in 1948. Then, in 1989, the current military regime took power and dropped Burma, preferring Myanmar. The U.N. went along with that decision, so did the New York Times. But the Washington Post and the BBC did not; they have stuck with Burma.


NPR chooses to split the difference, using Myanmar on first reference, along with a reminder that the country is also known as Burma. At the core of the confusion is a difficult, politically charged question: Does a military junta, known for repressing its people, get to decide a country's name?

Interestingly, both Myanmar and Burma come from the same root. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.